Once they entered the league, many joked that the Vegas Golden Knights would have the best home-ice advantage in the league.
Sure, the novelty of a new team would get fans excited, but it was the team’s presence on the Las Vegas Strip that would give the expansion team an edge. After all, they call it “Sin City” for a reason, and it’s not for the ride in.
Nobody could have expected them to be this good at home.
The Golden Knights are 8-1-0 at T-Mobile Arena, and have the league’s highest winning percentage at home. They’ve outscored opponents by 18 goals, and their 4.33 goals per home game is the third-best mark in the entire league.
The Sharks will thus face their toughest road test of the season on Friday night, in a game that they’re almost designed to lose. Early afternoon games mean there’s no morning skate, but an early afternoon game the day after Thanksgiving? In Las Vegas?
Blackjack players have better luck hitting on 20.
In fact, Vegas’ home slate is littered with early starts: 12 of their 41 home games occur before the traditional 7-or-7:30 p.m. slot. Some of that is undoubtedly due to travel, of course, as the Sharks will play on the first night of a back-to-back on Friday.
But the effect is nonetheless apparent: T-Mobile Arena has become a fortress.
The same can be said about any number of arenas in cities known for their nightlife, such as the Miami Heat’s home at American Airlines Arena, located less than 10 miles from South Beach. Vegas is another matter entirely.
It doesn’t help that the Golden Knights have, home ice advantage aside, played like a playoff team. Adjusting for score effects and venue, Vegas ranks 13th and ninth, respectively, in the two major puck possession metrics: corsi-for percentage (shot attempts) and fenwick-for percentage (unblocked shot attempts).
They’ve also had luck that gamblers on the strip would envy, thriving despite being down to fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace because of injuries to the goalies ahead of him. Vegas has played extremely well in front of him in spite of that, and have won three straight since getting shellacked in Edmonton 10 days ago.
In spite of almost every piece of available logic heading into the season, the Vegas Golden Knights are good. Almost every piece, of course, because their home-ice advantage is simultaneously the most logical thing in the world.
In Las Vegas, it usually doesn’t pay to bet against the house.